Port Discovery Children's Museum35 Market Place
Baltimore, MD 21202
Website ~ Map Link
Bottom Line: Wonderful interactive children museum for toddlers to tweens. Plan to pay for parking. If bringing multiple children, having multiple adults is recommended.
Admission is $13.95/pp over the age of 2
Operating hours vary by season - check their website
Last week we had two teacher conference days and took advantage of the time off to hit up the Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore.
I had heard great things and was looking forward to visiting at what I hoped would be an off time, since most school systems would still be in session and spring break had not yet started.
Port Discovery is not outrageously priced (compared to similar attractions), but I saw that we could take advantage of cheap parking by going on a Thursday afternoon. If you park in the garage next door to the museum and go park on the roof level (it’s got an additional gate to go through), parking is only $7, providing you enter after 12:30pm and leave before 5:30pm.
When we got to the museum, I was pleasantly surprised to learn the museum was also running a special they call “Thrifty Thursdays”. Enter after 1pm on Thursdays and the tickets are only $8 instead of $13.95. Cheapskates that we are, we hung out in the giftshop for a few minutes to take advantage of the price break.
We entered at promptly at 1pm, ready to explore. My kids are ages 9, 7, and 5 and I wondered if my oldest would be too old for this stuff. Answer: not at all. All three kids had a blast and enjoyed all 3.5 hours we spent at the museum (they would have stayed longer if the museum wasn’t closing and if mom and dad weren’t beat).
Port Discovery is a three story museum with a large open space in the center that has a massive climbing fort/labyrinth/thingee called Kid Works.
It’s so big, I couldn’t really photograph it in it’s entirety, but it has a variety of entrances that allow kids to climb, scramble and explore. Note: kids and adults need to wear flat, close-toed shoes in Kid Works, and it is intended for ages 5 and up. It is highly recommended that parents go with their kids because it opens onto different levels and kids can easily wander off by themselves.
Keeping up with the kids is easier said than done. Any parent who has had to scramble up into the elevated tunnels of a Mickey D’s play area will know what I am talking about — the space is designed for kids and some parts are challenging for full-size adults to squeeze through. We repeatedly lost sight of our kids, but didn’t worry too much, due to their ages and the sparse crowd.
At the point, I should mention that everyone in your party is given a wristband when you pay and the exits are attended so wristbands are checked for matching IDs. Kids can’t escape the premises without you.
While we had a hard time keeping up with the kids, they were in heaven. There were slides down, climbing walls to scramble up and rope tunnels to run through. They had a blast and I thought it was pretty cool too.
Currently, Port Discovery is featuring a special Wizard of Oz theme. There are many exhibits that feature scenes from the movie and use familiar visuals to demonstrate science concepts. Thankfully, the scary green witch and her evil flying monkeys were nowhere to be found.
My daughter loved the machine that amplified and distorted her voice, making her sound like the mighty and powerful Oz. My oldest son had fun building a rainbow.
There are many of the types of hands-on experiences you’d expect to find a a children’s museum — like a grocery store set-up, a 50s style diner, an arts area, and some toddler specific spaces we didn’t qualify for.
Here’s some pictures of some of the fun stuff we played with:
One area my kids loved was called Kick It Up! It blended technology with kinetic action. When my daughter visited, they had bikes set up so kids could pedal in a virtual bike race, and balance boards where kids could practice balancing like snowboarders and skateboarders.
Later, my son stopped by and found it set-up for soccer — he was in heaven playing with a couple other young boys.
The most popular exhibit, with my kids and others, was the Wonders of Water — WOW. In this room, there was a ton of different ways to play with water. Rain jackets and Crocs are provided, but keep in mind it is highly likely your kid will get soaked anyway. Bringing a change of clothes is a smart idea (we didn’t and we survived) — maybe just keep a dry pair in the car. They do have a dryer area that helps a little.
Plumbers Park let kids build structures with tubes that water could run through …
Another area let kids float things and redirect water flow. The Water Chimes (spraying instruments to make sounds) was quite popular. Another display was simple brillance, IMO. Kids could spray and “clean” the windows.
One of the coolest things in this exhibit was the Bubble Hoop. A metal ring starts on the ground in a bubble solution. As the child pulls the rope, the ring raises, creating a bubble wall. How high can you get it before it pops?
There were so many fun things for the kids to do, no one got bored and they are all anxious to return.
If visiting for the first time, here’s a few things to consider:
If you are bringing more than one child, I highly recommend having at least one other adult. As I mentioned earlier, it’s really easy to lose track of kids. The museum recommends establishing a family meet-up point and telling your kids to look to a staff member if they get separated.
Outside food is allowed, and can be eaten in designated eating areas, but no food or drink in the exhibits themselves. You can also leave the premise for lunch and return — just keep your wristband on.
Dress kids to play — make sure they (and you) wear flat, closed-toe shoes.
The museum is stroller and wheelchair accessible — there is an elevator.
Lockers are available for a small fee.
Memberships are also available.
We had a wonderful visit, and I really appreciated that there wasn’t much in the way of add-on expenses or up-charges. My kids loved everything about it and are eager to return.
I give Port Discovery and enthusiastic thumbs up!
Find more parks by visiting my main Arlington Parks & Playgrounds page.